Heart and Souls

Combining elements of Ghost, Field of Dreams and a half dozen other hateful dramadies, Heart and Souls breaks the gimmick jinx by blending laughs and tears into a magical fantasy. The prankish touch of director Ron Underwood (City Slickers) comes in handy when sentiment attacks. The plot concerns four troubled San Franciscans (Charles Grodin, Kyra Sedgwick, Alfre Woodard and Tom Sizemore) who die in a bus crash in 1959 the same night that Thomas Reilly (Robert Downey, Jr.) is born. These souls can't get to heaven until they complete some unfinished business. To do it, they must enter the body of Reilly, who has grown into a stuffy careerist.

Downey (Chaplin) shows an explosive talent for physical comedy, most memorably at a business meeting when a feminine spirit moves him and at a B.B. King concert when a shy Grodin uses him to sing the national anthem. The scene is a show stopper, highlighting a potently acted, buoyantly funny film that trades on emotion without making you gag on it.

From The Archives Issue 315: April 17, 1980